Hypocrites, Stop Lecturing the Rest of America

Laura Hollis

By Laura Hollis

Published Oct. 22, 2020

 Hypocrites, Stop Lecturing the Rest of America

The headlines grow more disgusting — and, frankly, more unbelievable — with each passing day. Jeffrey Toobin, a columnist for The New Yorker, was suspended earlier this week (and placed on leave from his gig as chief legal analyst for CNN) after he was allegedly observed masturbating during a Zoom call with some of his colleagues from the magazine and from WYNC radio. Unsurprisingly, Toobin has become an object of derision and the butt of countless jokes. (Other parts of his unseemly backstory are getting more publicity. This is not, as they say, his first rodeo.)

Not everyone has piled on. CNN anchor Brian Stelter delicately referred to the incident as an "accident" during which Toobin "exposed himself," and warned readers that Toobin has been "sidelined at a pivotal moment in the run-up to the presidential election." Because, certainly, Toobin's unavailability to join the team raking President Donald Trump over the coals is what's really important here.

Kevin Williamson at National Review described the country's reaction to Toobin's conduct as little more than the latest "public-hate ritual." "In the great junior-high cafeteria of the American public square," Williamson writes, "it's Toobin's turn to sit alone." Oh, sure. Because whipping your genitalia out in front of your co-workers and pleasuring yourself in the middle of a meeting is exactly like showing up in seventh grade wearing the "wrong" shoes.

.. The day after the ViewToob(in) scandal broke, Jonathan Zimmerman published a column in the New York Daily News in which he informs us that Toobin is "the most mocked man in the United States" only because of schadenfreude and because we're just not comfortable enough with masturbation. Zimmerman closes his piece by saying: "I'm guessing that you do the same, dear reader. Maybe you should stop feeling weird and guilty about that."

Zimmerman — like some of Toobin's other defenders — seems to be laboring under the misimpression that because conduct is engaged in somewhere , it must be tolerated everywhere . Let us agree, shall we, that just because it is appropriate to empty one's bowels in the bathroom does not mean it should be done in the conference room. And I'm going to further venture a guess that very few people have actually felt compelled to masturbate during conference calls, eight months of COVID-19 Zoom meetings notwithstanding.

But the larger point is that both Zimmerman and Williamson are getting it wrong here. The public's reaction isn't just the latest "two minutes of hate," secret envy or baseless "Mean Girl" bullying.

Millions of Americans display no sympathy for Toobin's (likely temporary) downfall because they are sick and tired of being lectured to and looked down upon by celebrities for whom leftist politics are expected to take the place of a complete lack of personal virtue. And that's putting it gracefully.

For the past four years (in truth, for years before that), the 63 million Americans who voted for Donald Trump have been on the receiving end of nothing but derision from the coastal elites, while we have watched them defend — and engage in — behavior that most of us find indefensible.

One would think that after so many of the pious politicians and moralizing media had been exposed as liars and frauds, they'd tone the righteous indignation down somewhat. Or that after the widespread rot that #MeToo exposed, Hollywood celebrities would be just a little reluctant to tout their moral superiority.

But, no.

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We rubes out here in Flyover Country are supposed to ignore the perversion and kink of the progressive vanguard; their chronic promiscuity; the spouses they wound and betray and abandon; their multiple divorces and the children they damage with their selfish behavior; their substance abuse and stints in rehab; their arrests for shoplifting and drunk driving and indecent exposure; the bribery and corruption and general hypocrisy of criticizing Joe and Jane Six-Pack for opposing policies that they themselves have zero intention of abiding by.

They're just better people, since they're voting for Joe Biden and they really, really support the Green New Deal.

Contrary to Kevin Williamson's take, I don't "hate" Jeffrey Toobin, and I wouldn't wish what he's going through on anyone, whether I agree with their politics or not. Furthermore, famous and wealthy Americans — like all Americans — are entitled to cast their vote however they wish, to feel strongly about it and to defend their positions. They are not , however, entitled to some kind of religious deference to their opinion, nor do they have a divine right to condemn everyone who doesn't share their political viewpoint.

Finally, if they want their politics to be more persuasive, or for the public to be more forgiving, they might try a little humility. Americans can overlook a multitude of sins. But hypocrisy, almost never.


Laura Hirschfeld Hollis is on the faculty at the University of Notre Dame, where she teaches courses in business law and entrepreneurship. She has received numerous awards for her teaching, research, community service and contributions to entrepreneurship education.